Shu Mai On My Mind
Most of us are so used to frozen or defrosted shrimp that “seasonal shrimp” sounds as oxymoronic as jumbo shrimp. But they do exist. I recently found these Maine babies at the supermarket, where they should be available for another month or so. You can use them whole and unpeeled for a shrimp boil. However, with their softer texture and slightly sweet flavor, these winter gifts lend themselves beautifully to light and subtle dumplings.
Shu mai—savory fillings of fish, chicken or veggies, spiked with Asian seasonings and bundled in thin dumpling wrappers—have been in my recipe repertoire since my early 20’s. Once I even held a dumpling party for close friends. Guests made their own from a selection of fillings, then I steamed them and served them with a wok full of stir-fried veggies and plenty of beer. This recipe makes 25-30, serving 2-3 for dinner with vegetables or a salad, or many more as appetizers. —Amy Cotler, author of The Locavore Way: Discover and Enjoy the Pleasures of Locally Grown Food
1 lb shrimp
1/2 cup finely grated cabbage
1 scallion, white and green, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon coarsely grated ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
Generous pinch cayenne pepper
Generous pinch sugar
¼ sea or kosher salt, or to taste
1 carrot, diced, optional
25-30 dumpling wrappers, round or, if square, with the corners cut off
1/2 cup lemon or lime juice
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
Generous pinch cayenne
1. Puree about 3/4 of the shrimp in the food processor until smooth. Remove with a spatula to a medium bowl. Add the rest of the shrimp and pulse to chop. Add to the bowl. Add the rest of the filling ingredients to the shrimp.
2. Lay out about 10 dumpling wrappers at a time. Put about a tablespoon of the filling in the center of each. Bring the wrapper up on four sides to form a loose four-lobed cloverleaf, then press each round lobe firmly toward the filling to form an open cupcake-like dumpling with the filling exposed at the top. Lift each and pat on the counter to create a base. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling. (Don’t worry, they don’t have to look perfect, just press around the sides so they won’t fall apart.) If you like, put one or more diced carrot pieces on the top of each dumpling.
3. Arrange the dumplings about 1/2 inch apart in concentric circles on an oiled or cabbage leaf lined steamer. Steam the dumplings over 1-2 inches of boiling water for 8-10 minutes or until just done. (Taste one to make sure the center is cooked.)
4. While the shu mai are steaming, combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. When cooked through, take the dumplings off the heat and let them rest for a minute or two. Drizzle each with a little sauce. Serve immediately.